By Jonathan Browne
The National Elections Commission clarifies here that the Final Registration Roll (FRR) for the October 10, 2023, Presidential and Legislative Elections is 2,471,617 and there has been no increase in the number of registrants, as it is being insinuated in the public.
The Commission has already begun distributing the Final Registration Roll to candidates and political parties via pen drive in readiness for polling day on Tuesday, October 10, 2023.
NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah, says encrypted Final Registration Roll for the October 10 elections is being distributed to political parties, disclosing that as of September 29, 2023, political parties representatives have been going at the Commission to take delivery of copies of the FRR.
The Commission has also presented the FRR to Supreme Court of Liberia, where it has been taken by two opposition political parties, the Unity Party and the Liberian People’s Party.
The two parties recently prayed the High Court to ask the NEC why it failed to publish the FRR 30 days before the elections, as constitutionally required, raising suspicion of manipulation.
But Chairperson Davidetta Lansanah in a weekly press briefing Tuesday, October 3, assured that preparations for the conduct of the 10 October polls are progressing well, reiterating commitment to ensuring that the elections are conducted in a transparent and credible manner.
She also reveals that to enhance transparency during the tally of results, the NEC has purchased 61 laptops, 59 Projectors, and 59 Projector stands for tally of the results of the 2023 General Elections, adding, “These 2 materials are being deployed across the 19 magisterial areas in the 15 counties for the tally of election results.”
The Commission also discloses it has deployed polling materials to 11 of Liberia’s 15 counties, including Sinoe, Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee, River Cess, and Grand Gedeh. Deployment has also taken place in Lower Lofa, Upper Lofa, Lower Nimba, Upper Nimba, Gbarpolu, Grand Capemount, Lower Bong, and Upper Bong.
“Materials for the remaining four counties including Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Bassa, and Margibi are being packaged and deployment begins this week”, Madam Browne Lansanah adds.
She says the Commission ordered reprint of ballot papers for electoral district 1 of Margibi County due to an error where a political party’s initial was placed under the logo of independent candidate, Mr. Jomah Samuels.
“The error has since been corrected and the ballots reprinted in Ghana arrived yesterday and are expected to be delivered to the NEC Central Warehouse today.”
The NEC says it has trained 79 Electoral District Coordinators, 382 Electoral Supervisors, 5,890 Presiding Officers, and 5,890 Voter Identification Officers, while training of other temporary staff will begin soon.
The European Union and the regional body ECOWAS have deployed observers across the country to observe Tuesday’s elections.
“I believe it is important for the European Union to accompany the Liberian people in this process”, Chief Observer, Mr. Andreas Schieder, said in a recent press conference.
Mr. Schieder disclosed that additional 40 Short-Term Observers will reinforce those already on the ground to bring to around 100 observers, including members of the European Parliament and EU diplomats accredited in Liberia from Member States, as well as from Canada and Norway.
The Resident Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Josephine Kkrumah underscored recently in Monrovia that the world looks to Liberia to showcase its growing democracy in the impending elections.
Madam Nkrumah cautioned that misinformation and disinformation pose serious threats to democracy, as they have become instruments that can be used to manipulate public opinion, sow discord, and undermine the electoral process.
“The debilitating impact of misinformation and disinformation on elections can be seen in a number of recent elections around the world, particularly within our region, where lives were lost, properties destroyed, and the credibility of elections compromised. We have had four coups from post-election conflicts in the sub-region and Liberia must stem the tide”, she said.
A total of 20 candidates all but one female, are in the race for the presidency, including incumbent President George Weah. Editing by Jonathan Browne